Sparta Economy Engine News

By Staff
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20601 Old State Road, Haubstadt, Indiana 47639

Before going into more detail in regard to the Economy gasoline
engines built at Sparta, Michigan, by the Holm Machine
Manufacturing Company, a few comments about the first Economy brand
engines offered by Sears, Roebuck & Co. are in order.

The first Economy brand gasoline engines were illustrated in the
fall of 1908 Sears catalog. While the illustrations in that catalog
and the spring 1909 catalog are somewhat generic, they have the
general appearance of the Waterloo gasoline engines. These were red
engines with a tag on the igniter side of the hopper stating
‘Economy Gasoline Engine.’ In the catalog it states that
the engines were shipped from central Iowa. In reality, the actual
engines seen now are essentially identical to the Waterloo gasoline
engines of that time. They have the speed regulating device and the
fuel system device that were patented by Louis M. Witry and
assigned to the Waterloo Gasoline Engine Company of Waterloo,

Shown below are excerpts from Witry’s patent papers showing
the speed regulating device and the fuel system. The speed
regulating device consisted basically of a friction held lever
that, when manually moved, varied the spring tension on the detent
arm to counteract the governor springs thus allowing changes of the
engine speed setting. In some instances Witry has been given credit
for inventing the horizontal flyball governor with a moveable inner
pin. Actually all he invented was a way to regulate governed engine
speed settings. This speed regulating device was not continued on
the first Sparta built Economys either because an agreement for its
use could not be reached or Holm convinced Sears that he had a
better deal with his own patent for that purpose. More on that in
future stories.

The right to use the Witry fuel system was apparently given or
sold to Holm (Sears) to be used on the first Sparta built Economy

Serial numbers on these first Economy brand engines fell into
the 6,000 to 10,000 range. Apparently serial numbers of both the
Waterloo brand and the Economy brand were commingled during a
‘year’ of production. It would be my guess that the total
production of the ‘Waterloo Economy’ engines at Waterloo
was around 1,000 or so engines. At the present time I know of four
of these ‘Waterloo Economy’ engines. They are located in
Arkansas, Indiana, Iowa and Maryland.

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